As educators, we need to recognize the significance of this moment for charter school authorizers. The pandemic has interrupted schooling for millions of children–widening achievement and opportunity gaps that we have all dedicated our careers to closing. Meanwhile, systemic racism continues to be a pervasive barrier throughout all institutions–including schools–but there is finally momentum where big changes seem possible.
Let’s think more broadly and acknowledge the power we have as educators. How can we do better? Where do we begin? The theme of this year’s 2021 NACSA Virtual Leadership Conference is “Evolving Together: New Work for New Times,” and we are designing it to be an inclusive space where we can all have honest discussions about how to tackle these challenges head on.
Participants from past years can confirm the type of reflective conversations that happen at our annual conference. Here’s what we’ve heard:
There was a wonderful mix of high-level policy and on the ground experiences to keep the information useful.
I really like how the speakers I saw were not only willing to push thinking on social justice and equity but also were unapologetic in holding a mirror to their own work.
With all their success, the speakers weren’t shy about expressing their challenges as authorizers and school leaders. It was refreshing.
Last year challenged us in ways that we have not yet even begun to understand, but it also gave us a welcome opportunity to look in the mirror and reflect upon the ways that charter school authorizing can step further away from compliance and risk aversion, and step towards a broader lens.
Through this lens we can define school quality; a more explicit commitment to ensuring we create (and implement) more equitable processes that are by, for, and of communities; and a vision for change that centers kids and communities. This evolution will take hard work and time.
To be successful, we will have to come together to learn from one another, to try new things, and to push ourselves towards a more just future. We look forward to seeing you at this year’s conference in October.